Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
After making his fortune with Idealab and a host of technology start-ups, Bill Gross has turned his attention to renewable energy. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Gross talks about the solar power plant technology his company eSolar is developing and about the future of solar.
Bill Gross is not your typical solar energy entrepreneur. In a business dominated by Silicon Valley technologists and veterans of the fossil fuel industry, Gross is a Southern Californian who made his name in software. His Idealab startup incubator led to the creation of companies such as eToys, CitySearch, and GoTo.com. The latter pioneered search advertising — think Google — and was acquired by Yahoo for $1.6 billion in 2003.
That payday has allowed Gross to pursue his green dreams. (As a teenager, he started a company to sell plans for a parabolic solar dish he had designed.) Over the past decade, Gross has launched a slew of green tech startups, including solar power plant builder eSolar, electric car company Aptera, and Energy Innovations, which is developing advanced photovoltaic technology. (more…)
Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010
Biofuels in Europe are struggling to meet the most basic thresholds for sustainability, according to the Times of London, which claims to have seen a government study that shows fossil fuels are better for the environment than “green fuels” made from crops.
The findings show that the United Kingdom’s biofuels mandate would result in millions of acres of forest being logged or burnt down and converted to plantations.
The study finds that some of the most basic crops used to make biofuels fail to meet the minimum sustainability standard set by the European Commission. (more…)
Friday, February 26th, 2010
The European Commission confirmed on Thursday that it believes legally binding sustainability criteria for biomass used to generate heat and power are not necessary in Europe, thus ending a long process by which the European Union body has debated the utility of a supranational scheme.
The Commission, however, adopted a report on sustainability requirements for the use of solid biomass and biogas in electricity, heating, and cooling. The report makes recommendations on sustainability criteria to member states and encourages them to introduce schemes at the national level.
This strategy minimizes the risk of the development of varied and possibly incompatible criteria at the national level, leading to barriers to trade and limiting the growth of the bio-energy sector in the European Union. (more…)
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
Bloom Energy has unveiled its long-awaited and much-hyped fuel cell technology, which it says can convert natural gas into electricity through an electrochemical process that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and at a price competitive with far-dirtier coal-fired electricity.
With California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance, Bloom co-founder and chief executive K.R. Sridhar unveiled his Bloom Energy Server at the Silicon Valley headquarters of one of its first customers, eBay.
Taking up no more room than a parking space and looking like a large refrigerator, the servers (at left) — which cost roughly $750,000 — convert natural gas or another fuel into electricity by creating an electrochemical process on a series of small, stacked disks.
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
A rising Asian nation leverages labor advantages to adapt Western technology to lower cost fabrication, and its leading companies rise as no-frills leaders in an emerging global market.
Thanks to free trade policies – kept in place, in part, to satisfy Western consumer demand for the product in its most afforable form — the Asian nation finds a ready export market that helps to build a worldwide brand and return immense profits.
Then, given a generation to develop a domestic engineering and technical workforce worthy of their place in the industry, the Asian nation’s concerns soon come to surpass their Western competitors and they bypass the godfathers of the business in innovation and quality, while retaining an edge in affordability.
Ring any bells?
Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
The burning of solid urban waste, sludge from water treatment plants, and livestock slurry could generate more than 7 percent of Spain’s electricity needs, according to a new report.
Researchers at the University of Zaragoza say incineration of these materials has the potential to produce up to 20.95 terawatt hours annually. In 2008, that would have met 7.2 percent of the nation’s electricity demand, according to the report published in the journal Renewable Energy. (more…)
Friday, February 19th, 2010
By 2020, the European Union will meet its goal of generating 20 percent of its electricity from wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy, according to the European Wind Energy Association.
The group said that 14 of the EU’s 27 member states will meet the 20 percent goal, eight will exceed it, and five will fall short, though only by one percent.
Friday, February 12th, 2010
SunPower, Silicon Valley’s biggest solar panel manufacturer, announced Thursday an agreement to buy SunRay Renewable Energy, a developer of solar power plants in Europe and Israel, for $277 million.
Although based in Malta, SunRay is managed by Israelis, including CEO Yoram Amiga and Michael Barnea, Head of Legal and M&A. SunRay established a wholly-owned Israeli subsidiary, SunRay Israel Blue & White, which is working to develop 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic projects.
Kobi Katz, the CEO of SunRay Israel, told The Marker the sale was a vote of confidence by SunPower in the Israeli solar market.
Monday, February 8th, 2010
At a factory in Wuxi, China, workers lift solar panels onto conveyor belts, while others in white lab coats move between machines as they check on a process for etching and engraving silicon wafers to form solar cells.
This scene in itself isn’t remarkable. But there is a new sort of excitement about the work. China’s production of solar panels has grown quickly in the past two years; it is it now the world’s leading exporter. When Matt Lewis, a representative of the California-based nonprofit ClimateWorks, visited the factory in October, he said it reminded him of his native Silicon Valley: The workers, even ordinary line workers, had a sense that they were part of building the future, the hot new industry.
Thursday, February 4th, 2010
The green economy is thriving despite the economic downturn, according to the State of Green Business 2010 report released Wednesday by Greener World Media.
“Green professionals weren’t among the first to be thrown overboard,” said Joel Makower, report author and Executive Editor of GreenBiz.com, in a statement. “Their budgets were slashed, their headcounts frozen, all while their mandates sometimes increased. But they managed to survive, even thrive, during tough times.”
What top trends are now driving green business? To start, the report says more companies and consumers are embracing “radical transparency.”